A View from Kristina Bjoran

Five Days of Tornado-Generating Storms as Seen from Space

Satellites help give scientists a big-picture look at severe weather.

  • May 27, 2011

Meteorologists use many technologies to gather large amounts of data on the weather. This data helps them model how weather will behave, and they hope more data and better models will allow for more accurate predictions, especially of severe weather.

Among the resources gathering atmospheric data are geostationary (GOES) and polar orbiting satellites (POES), both operated and managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Every 15 minutes, these satellites send back images and readings of Earth’s weather conditions. The images can then be put together, as seen above with the storm system that decimated Joplin, Missouri, giving meteorologists a unique perspective.

The regular stream of incoming data has allowed meteorologists to form more effective mathematical models, though some scientists believe that there may be fixed limits to predicting weather phenomenon.

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from undefined

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.